War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Two

Welcome one, welcome all, to the second of my weekly progress reports proper for War and Peace. You may have seen my first post summing up how my first week reading Tolstoy’s tome went but, for those unaware, I’m taking part in the War and Peace Newbies Read-along, as hosted by Laura from Reading In Bed.

Every week I will be doing a short progress wrap-up/my thoughts so far on the book, very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence is what I’m trying to say. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 2 went, which covered Part I, Volume II of War and Peace…

(spoiler alert: I put gifs in this post to try to disguise the lack of content)

  • It’s Monday, it’s the second Monday of Wimbledon, I have a day off and frankly I don’t expect to do much more than sit and watch ridiculously fit people hit tennis balls at each other. And maybe bake a cake. Because my life is just that exciting. War and Peace, you say? What War and Peace? (Spoiler alert: I read none of War and Peace on Monday.)
  • Not entirely sure how I feel about the representation of Denisov’s lisp – it feels like it’s going to turn into cheap comedy??
  • I still don’t really understand what’s going on during the war. It just seems to be a lot of miscommunication or flat-out lack of communication… and people looking stupid because they didn’t set fire to a bridge or something and SO MUCH PETTY BUREAUCRACY and… I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S HAPPENING I’M JUST READING WORDS BUT THE WORDS DON’T MAKE SENSE.

  • Although, to be fair, the bit where the regiment smartened themselves up and then promptly had to de-smarten because Kutuzov wanted them to be all scruffy to prove his point that they needed to retreat is GREAT LOLS – has the war turned into a farce now?
  • I think this section of the book proves that, aside from the comedic moments where people are undermining each other to look BIG and IMPORTANT in front of other military men (that stuff’s gold), I don’t give a crap about military movements and all that jazz. I just want the sneaky underhand politics of St Petersburg’s finest at fancy parties tbh.
  • What a precious big baby Nikolai Rostov is… and he must be protected from the scary war, that poor naive little man child. In my head I imagine him a lot like George from Blackadder – is it an inaccurate comparison? Probably. Do I care? Nope! This is how I’m imagining him from now on and you will have to tear this comparison out of my cold, dead hands before I’ll let it go.

  • Is the entire point of this section of the book just to illustrate that war is Andrey’s ~calling~ or some shit – like I get that he hates society and society gatherings and it’s all so tedious to him. And hey idk like maybe he seems more comfortable on a battle field and he’s being a Big Damn Hero in the closing stages of this section of the book but like… I still don’t like him sooo… if this is the tactic, it isn’t working on me, Tolstoy. You’re going to have to do better I’m afraid.

 

And those, dear readers, were my oh so insightful comments about Volume I, Part II of War and Peace. As you can tell, me and this book didn’t really get on this week, but I powered through and Week 2 is now over, we’ll be moving into week 3 and Volume I, Part III. Hopefully in this next week/part we’ll pop back to St Petersburg and I’ll have a clue what the hell is going on because, you know, I’d prefer to understand what I’m reading as a general rule so, here’s to hoping!


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6 thoughts on “War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Two

    • Emma 19/07/2017 / 11:16

      I started to think that too – that’s why when I saw a readalong happening I signed up and decided to give it a go. The whole ‘what am I gonna lose if I fail’ mindset, you know? Well I’ll lose nothing apart from a few months of my life. :P

  1. lauratfrey 17/07/2017 / 18:31

    I relate to this post! Nikolai is the BIGGEST man baby. I don’t know Blackadder, so I’ll have to take your word, haha.

    I feel the same way about Andrei, and usually I *like* big brooding misunderstood types. But not this time.

    I really liked that Tolstoy opened with the regiment getting dressed up – they dressing back down. It was almost slapstick.

    Overall, this chapter is just frightening, in terms of what war really is… no one knew what they were doing, just men posturing for each other, punctuated by periods of senseless slaughter.

    • Emma 18/07/2017 / 09:18

      Haha I’m glad someone else is on the same wavelength here. :P

      Lieutenant George from Blackadder is basically a satire of the rich people who used to become officers in WWI basically because they were rich and of good family, like an old boys’ club who went to Cambridge or Oxford and think going off to war will be “a bally old laugh”. It’s all very English. So I’m pretending like Nikolai is basically Russian George. It amuses me if nothing else.

      Yes! Normally I’m all for the big, brooding misunderstood boys, but he’s just not doing it for me. I’m more than happy to have my opinion changed by the rest of the novel though!

      I feel like if part 1 was a satire of society, part 2 is a satire of war at its “finest” – so much bureaucracy and farcical communication and lots of people basically marching around from one bit of land to another. It’s not exciting and it’s not sexy, but that’s the reality of war, I suppose.

      • Rick @ AnotherBook.blog 18/07/2017 / 18:25

        I think this was a hugely important point for Tolstoy: war is NOT exciting, war is NOT sexy. Just think: back in the 1860’s when this was published, the public had no frame of reference for what war was like (unless they fought). They didn’t incredibly realistic movies like we do. Many didn’t have access to quality literature about it. This was a pretty important public service announcement, basically. Stuff like this is often so lost on us, today. I’m continually trying to remind myself of that.

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